How To Shop On Instagram Without Getting Scammed

Everyone’s trying to start their own business, and every clothing brand is trying to be the next Fashion Nova — the brand that skyrocketed to fame by tapping into Instagram.

Unfortunately, this seemingly “big” market is also leading to lots of sketchy people trying to peddle low-quality clothing to clueless fashion-loving Instagrammers.

Or even worse, brands who are looking to take your money and not send you anything, then ignore all your angry customer service emails.

Fashion is in a weird place right now, and as someone who used to be a Nasty Gal obsessive, I totally understand the craving for new places to shop. But before you transfer your money via Paypal to an Instagram brand hawking strappy bikinis and crop tops, make sure you do your research.

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The most basic thing you should do before buying from a rando brand is a quick Google search with the name of the brand and the word “scam” or the name of the brand and the word “reviews.”

For example, if you search “Zaful scam” – the brand you’ve probably seen ads for on Facebook featuring adorable bikinis – you’ll see a ton of bad shit.

They average at two and three star reviews on sites like and, which is bad to begin with, but there are also specific features on Buzzfeed and on YouTuber channels talking about how horrible the quality of clothing and customer service is.

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In fact, many reviews specifically state that the clothing they were shown on the site was completely different from the item they received, and Buzzfeed notes that this is because Zaful was pulling product shots from more reputable sites and manufacturing their own shitty versions, which is what they sent to customers.

Zaful isn’t the only site that does this, and lots of new clothing sites simply steal images from reputable retailers and send you something completely different (or send you nothing at all).

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To combat this, another way to check up on a sus retailer is to reverse Google image search a product shot from their site. If that exact photo of those over-the-knee boots show up on another legit site at a much higher price point, there’s a good chance the site is a scam.

Because of this, it means that the item you’re lusting after does exist somewhere — it just might be a little more expensive than what you were hoping to pay. But if you want extra bonus points, you’ll support the original designer instead of some scammer capitalizing on their ideas. Plus, if an Instagram shop can’t even bother to send you the correct item, there’s a good chance they also manufacture their clothing in sweat shops or in a non-eco friendly way, which is just extra shit you don’t want to get involved with.

Another way to see how the clothes really look IRL is to browse an Instagram account’s tagged photos. If they have a bunch of girls showing off their cute clothes, it might be a good sign. Unless, of course, those girls are influencers who are being paid to claim that the company is legit and that their shirts don’t unravel after one washing.

To be extra safe, make sure the girls whose pages you’re looking at aren’t posting branded content, and maybe even shoot them a little DM to ask how their experience was with whatever brand they shouted out. Sorry, but if they’re promoting the brand with a personal discount count involving their name, they can’t be trusted.

Yes, this is a lot of effort just to buy a pair a cute dad hat for $5, but that’s your $5 that you worked hard for. You don’t need to be losing any amount of money to asshole “businesses” trying to take advantage of Instagram shoppers. Next time you spot a trendy piece that you have to have on the ‘gram, do your research.

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